6 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Catholic Spouse

Bride and groom.
Photo by Scott Webb

6 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Catholic Spouse


This past week I was asked to speak on the topic of choosing a good spouse. I suppose I was an easy choice, given the quality of woman I landed to be my wife. (Points!)

But this talk wasn’t about my great skill at wooing Lisa. It was about what to ask when discerning whether the person you are thinking of as a potential husband or wife is husband or wife material.

I came up with 6 questions to ask. Here they are:

1) Does he love God?

What was that greatest commandment-thing Jesus was talking about? Oh yeah: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mk 12:30)

I would say that if you are looking for a good future spouse, look for someone who is attempting to live out the greatest commandment.

The Catechism says that the married couple in their love for each other show an image of the constant love of God (1604). When two people love God above all else, even above each other, they will actually be more loving and paradoxically love each other more, giving the best expression of this image.  

2) Does he make me a better version of myself? 

In Genesis God says: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." (2:18)

What does the person you are considering to be your spouse help you towards? Your best, or something less?

What does the person you are considering to be your spouse help you towards? Your best, or something less?

Our spouse should have the virtue of magnanimity. He or she should be striving for greatness herself (knowing our universal vocation to holiness) and calling me to be heroically charitable (i.e. holy) myself.

If your spouse is ok with certain vices, you will either share in some degree in their vices (eg. gossip) or be the victim of them.

Am I saying that your prospective spouse needs to be perfect? No way! We’re all a work in progress. But they should be striving with God’s help to be their best, and help you be yours.

3) Does he trust the Church?

Does your prospective spouse see the Church as an authoritarian structure, bent on needlessly controlling our lives? Or does he see the Church as a loving mother, who lovingly encourages her children on the path to their lasting joy and fulfilment?

When the Church and her teaching is a common reference point for you and your spouse, you can turn to her for guidance when making or sticking to certain big decisions.

An example: my wife and I encountered the Theology of the Body right before we started dating. It shaped the philosophy of our relationship and eventual marriage. Later, the Church’s teaching on receiving children lovingly from God reshaped our idea of how our family would look.

We know that Jesus established a Church, and whatever our circumstances, we know that she will never lead us astray.

4) Do you feel a sense of shared mission?

This may be harder to discern, but do you feel like God is calling you to a plan that involves each other? Do you feel like you have a mission together?

It’s counter-cultural to be a Catholic family. People look at us with our almost-5 kids and they think that we’re cuckoo. But we know that openness to kids is part of our mission.

We know that we are called to evangelize our children and bring them up with faith in Jesus, because the transformation of the world comes through the family.

We know that we are called to bear Christ to the world as well, in the ordinary course of our lives, but we also share in apostolic works together. In our case, we coordinate Alpha at our parish, because we know that this is something concrete that we can do to bring people to Jesus.

There are all kinds of marriages, and people at different places in their faith journey. But it is really nice to be in the trenches in a mission together.

5) What kind of mother or father would they make?

I recall St. Francis de Sales writing in Introduction to the Devout Life something like this:

“One thing is certain: you will die, and sooner than you think."

If you happen to die young, do you trust your prospective spouse to raise up the children with everything they need to be the saints that God has made them to be?

6) Is there chemistry?

This one seems kind of obvious to me, but I think that you have to be intrigued/enamoured/captivated/fascinated by your prospective spouse. I don’t mean that it has to be the exaggerated, Hollywood-sort of romance. It doesn’t have to be fireworks all the time. But you better be able to see them in a romantic way!

Maybe this comes on earlier or later, but bottom line, if you give it a chance and pray about it and it still doesn’t come, it’s probably best not to force it. 


So if your prospective spouse doesn’t measure up in all the areas I’ve outlined, does that mean it’s not meant to be?

Who knows! I put these things forward for your consideration. If he or she doesn’t hit all six, pray about it. The Church blesses marriages that do not look like what I’ve described, but she invites discernment and at time circumspection. So make it a prayerful and careful experience, and I trust that God will show you the signs you need to make your choice.

For further reading, check out the Catechism section on matrimony.  

Question: What question would you ask about a prospective spouse?

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